Swell Season for Spring Wildflowers in North Evanston

While weather extremes have hammered many parts of America this spring, many of the systems have moderated by the time they reach the Chicago area, and we've experienced a pattern of rain and then sun more like springs of the past than the long, cold, wet of many recent years. This has produced, as far as I can see, a bumper year for spring wildflowers.

In my own garden, the plants seem especially healthy. A couple decades ago I started adding to and sometimes replacing non-native garden standards with species native to the midwest and ideally to Cook County. It was not always easy to find plantings in local nurseries. Now it's much more common and at last count our little plot sheltered over 100 native species.

One plant that I put in about 9 years ago has always struggled to muster more than a few blooms, but the weather this season has suited it, and I'm seeing a more vibrant stand of Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata, (above) than ever before. I think this was a nursery cultivar, perhaps "Blue Moon," but it still has strong ecological value for butterflies and bees. It also looks pretty, complementing the Virginia bluebells that abound in Evanston if let be.